“… The Witch King is the embodiment of masculinity and all its virtues just as the Witch Queen is the embodiment of femininity. He is a powerful protector and his influence in witchcraft annihilates destructive influences that try to bring ruin. His crown has 10 cowry shells, mouths of the Gods Who speak through him, and 10 fiery red feathers, representing the order of the heavens, the cycle of the Universe. His crown also represent the order of the Elements: the metal representing earth; the feathers, air; the blazing red rubies representing fire; and the shells representing water. Because of his irrevocable Mastery, he is unconquerable.”
— The Sabbath Tarot Compendium
Witch traditions around the world celebrate a kind of informal hierarchy where a witch’s reputation speaks for itself. While many recognize the existence of The Witch Queen, few know about The Witch King. He is El Brujo Mayor in Latin America, Aeetes of Greek mythology, even the three Magi Kings of the Bible who learned of the birth of Christ through astrology, a magical practice the Bible condemns.
The Witch King is the sovereign of the Coven, and most importantly ruler of his witchcraft. He carries the pitchfork of the Lord of the Sabbath representing him as Master of the Elements, and Master of the Fiery Ether from which all our witchcraft is forged. The pitchfork itself has a long history in witchcraft, being listed among the tools witches ride, often being depicted in woodcuts and other early witch imagery. Pitchforks, such as the one The Devil is said to wield, are tools of agriculture, linking them to the chthonic powers of the earth (it is a common misconception that The Devil’s pitchfork comes from the God Poseidon’s trident). They are believed to have the power to pitch the sky into storms, to throw off trouble, ill fortune, and curses, and to cast our witchcraft out into the wide world to do our bidding.
In many modern practices the pitchfork is called the stang, and often incorporates 2 tines rather than 3 or 4. The term stang is relatively modern, and it serves more as a representation of the British Wicca’s Horned God figure, rather than having anything to do with the use of the tool itself, although it does retain its legacy as a vehicle for spiritual travel. The pitchfork within the image of The Witch King card is one of our working tools. It became our sacred tool when it was used to stir the embers of a Halloween bonfire which ignited the tines. As the cold night wind blew it cast off magnificent embers and seemed to absorb the ritual and witchcraft we performed that year.
In his left hand he holds the serpent, the giver of knowledge, with whom he speaks. The serpent is an automaton, ensouled with the spirit of his familiar signifying his ability to command vitality into inanimate objects, pulling forth the divine essence that exists in all matter. Witches throughout the world are said to be able to animate objects such as poppets, dolls, and even the dead by giving them spirit.
The wooden jointed snake actually does have a role in history as a favorite spirit of a famous Witch Queen, or more specifically, Voodoo Queen. None other than New Orleans’ Marie Laveau used a wooden jointed snake for her ‘pet’ snake Zombi as the priestess was actually afraid of snakes herself. Sympathetic objects are actually preferable to the witch in that they have no soul of their own and can be used as vessels to house our familiars so they can work unseen.
His crown is adorned with fiery rubies and red parrot feathers that lick the nocturnal air like little flames, the flames of his own will and desires.Rubies have long been considered the “King of Gemstones”, revered for their hardness and vivid red color, giving them some remarkable spiritual properties. It was once believed that rubies were made through the heat caused by celestial fire or lightning, which gave them their redness and magical energy. Because they are the color of fire they are believed to protect against enemies, destroying their malicious intentions, and can warn the wearer when danger is near. They can also be seen to be sympathetically linked to the blood of life, the blood that fills the erection, making it a powerful stone of lust, not only for sexual gratification, but the lust that is inherent in all witchcraft. It imbues the witch with aggressive drive, vitality, leadership, and courage.
The red parrot feather is also a powerful talisman for the witch. It is used heavily in the African Diasporic Traditions, particularly those with influences from the Yoruba. It is a symbol of authority that bestows the ultimate power to the witch allowing them to connect with the celestial spheres of the Gods. Those who wear this symbol have proven their worth in manifesting miracles and possessing prophetic powers. Because they are connected to the Ether, they have the ability to foretell the intentions of others, warn when our enemies move against us, and reveal the truth.
This card represents authority, a strong leader, and a father figure as the Witch King can make other witches through initiation. It is a card of unlimited power and recognition, as well as confidence in the face of any adversity. He represents the steadfastness of our will and our witchcraft.